A History of Preaching

Article excerpt

A History of Preaching. By O. C. Edwards Jr. Contains a CD-Rom with a second volume of primary sources, 665 pages as well as a digitized copy of volume 1. (Nashville: Abingdon Press. 2004. Pp. xxviii, 879. $65.00.)

Homiletics professors looking for a brief, manageable, and contemporary history of preaching have commonly been frustrated; the existing works tend to be (1) old and out of date, and/or (2) vast multi-volumes, many of which are devoted to specialized study, and/or (3) histories reflecting questionable scholarship, and (4) usually out of print. O. C. Edwards' A History of Preaching is one of three works on the topic published in the past five years to fill the void that has existed for the past thirty years. Edwards work has at least one clear advantage over the other two contemporary histories: his has been completed, while the multi-volume works by Ronald E. Osborn (The Folly of God) and Hughes Oliphant Old (The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church) are still in process. Additionally, Edwards' history is a more manageable size. A History of Preaching consists of one printed volume plus an additional CD-Rom that contains both a second volume as well as a digitized copy of the first. The second volume consists of 665 pages of primary sources: complete sermons and reflections on what preaching is and how it should be conducted, beginning with a synagogue homily and a sermon by Melito of Sardis (ca. 165 A.D.) and extending up to the work of homilists preaching and homileticians reflecting on preaching in the last decades of the twentieth century. In some ways, by collecting this material and making it available in one source, the second volume may easily be as valuable as the first.

Describing his book as "a homiletic genealogy for those who preach the faith today in English-especially Americans, but British as well," Edwards acknowledges the limitations that space and time have constrained him to make. He begins with a consideration of the earliest examples of Christian preaching and reflections on preaching that are available, but soon begins to focus his attention, first on the Greek and Latin Fathers; then, after the patristic period, on preaching in the West; then, after the Reformation, on preaching in England; and finally on preaching in the United States. …


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